Mobile phone laws

New laws passed in NSW Parliament to allow for camera detection of illegal mobile phone usage in cars.

On November 1, 2012 a number of changes were introduced to the NSW road rules. These changes included amendments to the laws on the use of mobile phones by drivers. These changes are set out in the NSW Consolidated Regulations – Road Rules 2008, Regulation 300.

When a vehicle is moving or stationary the driver of the vehicle is not allowed to make or receive calls, or play audio on their phone unless:

  • the body of the phone is secured in a fixed mounting;
  • the body of the phone is not being held by the driver and the use of the phone does not require the driver to, at any time while using it, press or otherwise manipulate any part of the body of the phone;
  • the phone is functioning as a visual display unit that is being used as a driver’s aid and the phone is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle.

All other functions of the phone including texting, video messaging, online chat, reading preview messages, and emailing are prohibited when you are driving or stationary on the road. However, if your mobile phone receives a text message or other kind of message automatically you are not considered to have sent or received the message yourself and are therefore not in breach of the regulation.

If you are the driver of a car that is moving or stationary (i.e. waiting at the lights) but not parked you must not hold your mobile phone in your hand unless you are passing it to a passenger.

You may use your mobile phone’s GPS (or similar driver’s aid) only if:

  • The phone is secured in a commercially designed and manufactured fixed mounting;
  • The mounting is fixed in a location that will not distract or obscure your view of the road; and
  • The driver’s aid does not distract you from driving or from being in complete control of the vehicle.

Learner and Provisional P1 drivers are not allowed to use any function of a mobile phone (including hands free) while driving.

Mobile phones have been found to be particularly distracting for new drivers. Studies show that using a mobile phone while driving increases your chance of having a crash by slowing down your reaction times and interfering with your perception skills.

Exceptions to these mobile phone use rules are made for the emergency and police services.

The maximum penalty for the offence of driving whilst using a mobile phone is $2,200.

If you have been charged with a mobile phone offence call North Shore Criminal Law on (02) 9955 2298 or 0400 44 6424 for expert advice on traffic law. William Vahl of North Shore Criminal Law is the only Accredited Criminal Law Specialist on the North Shore of Sydney.